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Fly Fishing Getting Started - A Dozen Top Flies
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Coty Soult and the Open Air Project
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2018 PAFF Eastern PA Fly Tying Jam: 17 Feb
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 03/10/2018 (11123 reads)
Streamers and Wooley Buggers
One of the great things about Paflyfish is the tremendous knowledge and sharing that is done especially in the forums. Tom "afishinado" Ciannilli, like many, regularly contributes to answering questions in the Beginners Forums. As the early trout season is about to get started he offered some great advice on A Dozen Top Flies. A very subjective topic, but for anglers just getting started, Tom's picks are are spot on.

Tom's selection is broken into six sinking flies for subsurface fishing and six surface dry flies. For some flies a range of sizes are important to have your fly box. The selection and success of fly and size will always depend on stream and conditions. I would suggest having more than about three of each of these to get started. Nothing worse than having a successful day with a fly and then not to have a backup if you loose it.

For any fly fishing angler starting to fill out their fly boxes these 12 types of flies will get you started on most any water for several months. You can join along with further questions in Tom's thread here in the forum.

A Dozen Top Flies by Tom "afishinado" Ciannilli
(notice I didn't say the dozen top flies...but if I had to select 12 flies, these would be in my box)

Sinking Subsurface Flies:

Wooly Bugger – Size 8 in dark olive w/ a black tail is my go-to. Having some black or white ones and a few a little smaller or bigger would be ideal. Fish anytime / anywhere – drift and/or strip.
Hares Ear Nymph – size 10 – 16 w/ and w/o beads. Natural is my favorite, but a few in olive or black would round it out. Fish anytime / anywhere – dead drift
Pheasant Tail Nymph – Size 12 – 16 w/ and w/o beads. Fish anytime / anywhere – dead drift
Green Weenie – Size 12. Fish anytime / anywhere – dead drift
San Juan Worm – Size 12. Fish anytime / anywhere – dead drift
Soft Hackle – Size 12 – 16. Pheasant tail, Partridge and Orange, Partridge and yellow, peacock to name a few popular ones. Dead drift, swing, hang or strip. All will catch fish.

Floating flies:

Blue Wing Olive (BWO)– Size 14 – 18 (early and late season mayfly hatches)
Adams – Size 10 – 18 (for dark mayflies)
Sulphur – Size 10 – 18 (mid-season light-colored mayfly hatches)
Beetle and/or Ant – Size 14 – 18 (Spring - late summer)
Griffiths Gnat - Size 18 - 22 ( For midges - very small insects - all year round)
Elk Hair Caddis – Size 10 – 18 in Tan, Black and Green for caddis hatches and/or stonefly hatches all season.

Mayflies have an upright wing and look like sailboats on the water.
Caddis have wings shaped like a tent over their body.
Stoneflies have wings that fold flat over their bodies.

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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/28/2018 (8258 reads)
Fly fishing anglers can pursue many types of freshwater fish in the region including bass, carp and sunfish. Undoubtedly, fly fishing for trout is by far the most popular. Millions of brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout are stocked in the Northeast every year. Aside from state and local club stocking efforts, all three species can be found naturally reproducing with varying degrees of success as well.

Trout flourish in waters that sustain fertile, cooler conditions year-round. Pollution has had an obvious negative impact on the success of wild trout populations. Many streams with high acidity or low levels of pH in mining regions have had a difficult time sustaining trout populations. Brook trout especially are the most tolerant of these conditions however their presence was greatly diminished during the twentieth century by deforestation and subsequent warmer water temperatures. Pollution spills that wiped out the insect life have been equally as devastating to trout populations. With improved conservation efforts and time, wild trout are making a strong comeback.

Better water conditions provide improved fertility in a stream so that young trout can feed on plankton, small crustaceans and insects. Mature trout will eat insects, fish, salamanders, crustaceans and even small mammals. Fly fishing for trout requires a keen knowledge of habitat, trout food and the fish. There are differences on how to fly fish for wild vs stocked trout.

Let's take a look at some of the general characteristics you’ll find with the three most common trout found in the northeast region for fly fishing.

Brook Trout - Salvelinus fontinalis
Brook Trout photo by 3wt7X

Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)
Brook Trout are the only stream trout native to the region. Generally brook trout are found from northern Georgia along the Appalachian Mountains and then north into Maine. They are also found in the Great Lakes–Saint Lawrence system over to Hudson Bay region. During the 19th century brook trout were first introduced throughout the western US. They are the official state fish for New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

A typical wild brook trout can be 6"-18" inches dependent on habitat, nutrition and age. They are typically the smaller of the three commonly found trout. Brook trout spawn during the fall starting in late September thru November. Of the annual stocking in Pennsylvania by the PFBC less than 20% of the annual stocked trout are brookies. Fly fishing for wild brook trout in small mountainous streams is it’s own pursuit by many.

Habitat: Brook trout generally live in small to moderate-sized streams, lakes, and ponds. They thrive in cool temps (34-72 degrees), clean and well-oxygenated water conditions.

Identification: body coloring is generally dark brown-green, the upper body and top have a wavy or a marbling pattern called vermiculation that extends onto the dorsal fin, the sides and belly shade is lighter, body is marked with light colored or yellow spots with smaller red spots surrounded by a blue halo and white leading edge on pelvic and anal fins.

Brown Trout - Salmo trutta
Brown Trout photo by 3wt7X

Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)
Brown trout are not a native species to the United States and they were introduced from Europe during the 19th century. They have become very successful across the country in many streams and lakes. Wild brown trout are typically larger than the native brook trout and are commonly found 12"-18". Larger brown trout can be found up to 30 inches and some can live well past 15 years. In Pennsylvania, about 1/3 of all streams stocking by the PFBC is with brown trout.

Habitat: Brown trout can be found in a wider range of water conditions. They prefer water temps from 50-60 degrees but can sustain themselves into the lower 70's. They are typically a little less tolerant of low pH conditions as compared to native brook trout.

Identification: body color is surprisingly not brown in color with black and often red spots on the sides, the lower belly section is yellowish, the tail fin typically has no spots.

Rainbow Trout - Oncorhynchus mykiss
Rainbow Trout photo by 3wt7X

Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
Rainbow Trout are native to the Pacific coast of California to Alaska. Pennsylvania and other east coast states introduced rainbows during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The average size range for rainbow trout is 10"-14" inches, with some individuals reach 20+ inches. Opposite of brown and brook trout, wild rainbow trout spawn in the spring time. There are only a few naturally reproducing populations of rainbow trout on the east coast, but the species does very well in hatcheries and is the predominate species used in stream stocking. In Pennsylvania over 50% of the stocked trout are rainbows.

Habitat: Rainbows, much like brown trout, are a little less tolerant of low ph conditions. It is even suggested they can tolerate temps up to 75 degrees.

Identification: dark-greenish to silver back, red-pink stripe along lateral line, blackish spots on sides, head, dorsal fin and tail

Beginners can follow along and learn more in the Beginners Forum.

Additional Online Resources
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Published by Dave Weaver [Dave_W] on 01/28/2018 (639 reads)
You are invited to attend and participate in the 2018 PAFF Eastern PA Fly Tying Jamboree, to be held on Saturday, February 17, from 10 AM to 5 PM.

This event is being hosted by Michael Lohman GenCon and Rich Mooney, Mooney4. Either of us will answer any questions regarding the event.

This event will be held at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, in Slatington, PA. Directions can be found here:

Everyone is invited to attend and watch the demonstrations, get tips from the the tyers, and have a great time. We particularly encourage beginner tyers to attend, and we'll have beginner instruction set up at a table. Details to follow.


As always, we need to recruit a team of volunteer tyers of all skill levels to participate and we ask that you register your willingness to give a demonstration by signing up in this thread. Each tyer will be given 15-20 minutes to tie and explain their chosen demo fly. Tyers will tie one at a time, proceeding around the room. Please choose a pattern that fits in to one of the following categories, and list it in your signup post. Duplicates are OK, but try to pick a pattern that hasn't already been chosen.


- Catskill style dries
- parachute style dries
- comparadun and hairwing style dries
- emergers
- imitative nymphs
- attractor nymphs
- terrestrials
- wet flies
- streamers
- "other" flies

Tying on a large hook (e.g. #12) makes it much easier for the audience to see what you are doing. It really helps if you practice your "demo" beforehand, especially to keep within the time limit. Having all materials laid out beforehand is also good. We should be able to fit about 30 tyers into the rotation. If we have extra time, that time will be used for Q & A sessions following each demo. We request that the tyers explain techniques as they go, rather than just tying the fly, and explaining afterwards. This can easily make a 5 minute tie into a 15 minute tie, so be prepared.

Things to bring:

All Tools and materials to tie your chosen demo fly. A tying lamp and any extension cords you need - there's an ample number of outlets on the walls behind the tying tables.

Bring any food or drinks you'd like to, but save room for dinner! We'll provide spring water on ice.

It's a good idea to get there and set up your tying gear before 10AM. We'll have access to the hall at the LGNC at 9AM, so please be ready to start tying at 10AM.

We'll also be holding a raffle at 5 PM of donated tying materials and flyfishing gear. Any donations to this raffle are welcome, and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, as a "thank you" for allowing us to use their beautiful facility for this event.

We'll be heading over to Riverwalck's Saloon after the event for drinks and dinner. Directions to Riverwalck's Saloon can be found here:

Let the hostess know you are with Paflyfish, and she'll take you to our tables.

Looking forward to a fun and educational day, meeting new PAFF members, and seeing old friends and fishing buddies!

Please sign up in the forum and ask any questions here.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 01/21/2018 (7873 reads)
by Guest: George Daniel

There are no absolutes in fly fishing and that’s why I refer to this approach as a theory. While this “theory” produces good results, there will be times you will have to adjust your way of thinking as there are no absolutes in fly fishing. What I’m referring to is trying to get inside the mind of a wintertime feeding trout. Think about it, wintertime is a period when these cold blooded critter’s feeding habits slow down as water temperatures drop. In many river systems, trout begin to drop back into the slower moving bodies of water in an effort to expend less energy. Although their metabolisms may slow down, feeding is still on their mind and the wintertime can be the right time for the angler to venture out to the river. Often the most popular sections are void of anglers and I’ve had several days where the action would rival a May sulphur hatch. A wintertime feeding trout may not always mirror its springtime foraging behavior, but trout still need to eat and a larger presentation may be the ticket. Sometimes all trout need is a little encouragement so I often call upon larger patterns to create that desire.

winter troutBy larger, I’m referring to nymph patterns as large as #4 and small as a #10. Yes that big-even on spring and limestone streams. Think about this, trout feel sluggish and less motivated to continuously chase small food items down during these cold winter months. Instead, it seems logical that trout would be willing to spend less energy chasing down larger food items. Move less and obtain more calories! Large stonefly, caddis, egg and worm patterns are my usual wintertime suspects. Nymphing is normally my first choice as I can slowly present the flies. Streamer tactics also work well but only when trout are feeling up to the chase. The idea is to present a pattern that can fulfill a trout’s hunger with only one energy surge. In many ways, this relates to human wintertime eating behaviors.

During the warmer months I find myself constantly snacking throughout the day-mostly due to my high level of physical activity (Fishing, playing with my kids, my daily workout regiment and so on). However, I snack far less during the colder winter months as I expend less physical energy (less daylight=less playtime). This theory also plays out well for me when targeting trout during extreme cold weather conditions. Trout may indeed feed less during the winter but I believe they become more opportunistic foragers. Many of the live bait fishers I stay in contact with have their greatest results fishing larger baits (sculpins, night crawlers, and live crayfish) in the slower moving waters during the winter months.

The moral of the story is you still need to be dynamic-change when necessary but don’t be afraid to present larger than average patterns during the wintertime. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.

George DanielsGeorge Daniel has served as assistant manager at TCO Fly Shop, in State College, PA. He travels the country conducting fly-fishing clinics for various groups and organizations. George has been associated with Fly Fishing Team USA. Some of his accomplishments include being a two time national fly fishing champion, won The Fly Fishing Masters, and ranked as high as fifth in the World along with other competitive achievements. George is author of two books about nymph and streamer fishing. He lives near Lamar, Pennsylvania. If you want to keep up with George in the Internet you can follow him on his Facebook page here.

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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 01/01/2018 (1317 reads)
So tell us about the Open Air Project?
Steve Sunderland and I decided one day to start a podcast about hunting, fishing, and the outdoors. The vision for The Open Air project was to share with people the stories of us and our guests, all while educating everyone in the process. We both feel that learning is a never ending journey, one that we intend to share with our audience. If we can learn, meet unique people, and make few friends along the way, we feel that we've accomplished our goals.

Coty SoultWho is your audience?

Our audience is anyone that enjoys the outdoors and nature. We'll cover topics that vary from hunting, fishing, hiking, backpacking, camping, canoeing, and really anything in between. You may tune in one day and hear about a topic that you're deeply involved with and have a true passion for learning about the intricacies of. The next episode may be something that you've always had an interest in but maybe not had the time to learn about or even experience. We also do a small segment about craft beer at the end of every show, and have had some good feedback about that.

What got you interested in starting the Open Air Project?
I love listening to podcasts, and thought it'd be cool to give it a shot. It's also a great opportunity to get together with some cool people, hear some stories, and drink a couple beers.

What has been the biggest surprise for you in taking on this effort?
The biggest surprise has to be how intricate the process was to setup. I thought we would just record some stuff, submit it to iTunes, and that would be that. That was hardly the case. I had to learn a lot about building a website, RSS feeds, producing good sound quality, hosting media files, and much more. I enjoy a challenge, so in the end it ended up being a good surprise.

What are your plans for 2018?
2018 is going to be a great year for The Open Air Project. We have some great guests lined up already for the upcoming year, and we'll also be producing some video gear reviews. One of our other goals for the year is to record as much footage as we can of all of our adventures. We have a fishing trip to Montana planned, and a hunting trip to Ohio that we hope to produce video content from.

What are your biggest outdoor interests?
My current outdoor interests include fly-fishing, hunting, camping, canoeing, hiking, and just being in the woods. In my lifetime my hobbies have varied depending on the area I've lived in but have always involved the outdoors. Some of those include, snowboarding, surfing, and whitewater canoeing.

Where are your places on your bucket list?
Man, that's a great question. I've been fortunate to be able to cross off a ton of my traveling bucket list places in the last few years, but just like anyone else I have ton more places that I'd like to go and see. I'll just list the ones that would have to do with hunting and fishing for the purposes of this article. Tops on my list would probably include New Zealand, Alaska, Colorado, and British Columbia.

How did you get started into fly fishing?
I started fly-fishing relatively late in life. I have a good friend that invited me on an annual trip to Pine Creek, and everyone there fly fished so I borrowed a rod every year and went with them. After about three years of doing this I decided to give it a real try.

Well, when I get into something I don't typically just dip my toes in. I try to learn as much as I can as fast as I can. I have a competitive side to me, and I don't necessarily mean with other people, but with myself. I want to be good at whatever I do. That's just my personality and I'll typically push myself pretty hard to be better. With fly-fishing, I feel there are three main ways to do that.

First is to do research, and that's how I found Paflyfish, and I feel that it's the best place on the internet to learn about fly-fishing.

Second, is by learning from others. A mentor can really cut the learning curve. Paflyfish helped me there also, because I was able to meet some great people that were willing to share everything that they knew. This also led me to some great friends that I shared some amazing moments with.

Last and what I feel is the most important is time on the water. It's really that simple. You can talk about fishing all you want but to really understand it you need to be there, and do it as much as you possibly can.

What are your favorite areas of Pennsylvania to hunt and fish?
My favorite places to hunt in PA are right where I live here in the Clearfield area. I can be on some of the best public hunting land in the state within 10 miles, and there's more land than someone could hunt in a lifetime. Our game commission doesn't get the credit they deserve for not only providing us with great places to hunt, but also (although some would disagree) they've made what I believe are some great decisions within the last 20 years to improve the overall health of our forests.

As for fishing, it would have to be the central part of the state. Again, I'm blessed here also, as I can be on the Little J or Spring Creek within 30-40 minutes. this has allowed me to get to to know these streams intimately, and if you combine those with Penns Creek, and Big Fishing Creek, I'm not sure there's a better area for fishing on the east coast, especially come May.

Where can people find you and the podcast?
You can find me on Paflyfish I check in there almost daily, and am more than willing to answer any PM's, but you can find the podcast in the links below. I think one of the coolest things is that if you own an Amazon Echo (Alexa) you can tell her to "play the latest episode of The Open Air Project on Tunein Radio" and it starts to play.

iTunes: The Open Air Project Coty Soult & Steve Sunderland
Stitcher: The Open Air Project
Tunein Radio:
Twitter: The Open Air Project (@openairproject) | Twitter
Instagram: Coty Soult (@theopenairproject) • Instagram photos and videos

Comments and feedback in the Paflyfish forum here
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 12/25/2017 (25226 reads)
Fly Fishing Getting started

Paflyfish is a popular spot for fly fishing anglers in the region for many good reasons. There are all sorts of great conversations and information shared in the forums on a host of different topics. We are very fortunate to have so many folks not only provide information online in the forums, but help out beginners at clinics and instructional jamborees. Also there are some darn smart anglers on the site coming from all walks of life. The site is filled with thousands of great post and threads that offer any angler any opportunity to expand their fly fishing opportunities. This section will be a dynamic page for beginners to find an index of information to get started with fly fishing. As relevant blog posts and threads are collected they will be added for quick and easy topics.

Take the Journey

Types of Trout

Trout Food
Trout Food Overview
The Mayfly Stages of Life 101
Mayfly Sex Identification 102
The Caddisflies
Green Drakes: May Madness
Meet the Hendricksons

What Fly Rod and Fly Reel to get?
A Dozen Top Flies
Knots and the DBK
Trip Packing

Seasonal Information
Getting Ready For Fall Fly Fishing
Conquer the Cold: The theory of bigger being sometimes better
Getting out for some fall fly fishing
Try Some Winter Fly Fishing
How to Dress for Winter Fly Fishing

Beginners Forum
Fly Fishing Locations
Fly Tying
Stream Reports

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
PFBC Map Gallery
PFBC Comments and Feedback
Buy a PA Fishing License

Additional Online Information
Fly Fishing Hatch Chart
USGS Real-Time Streamflow Data & Mobile
Report a spill
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Published by Maurice Chioda [Maurice] on 11/30/2017 (1857 reads)
Fly fishing during the winter can be an enjoyable endeavor if you put some effort into finding where the wily trout feed during the cold water temperatures. An important “hatch” in winter is that of the early black and brown stoneflies.

Stoneflies both little and large are the canary in the coal mine for water quality. They are one of the first species to disappear on impaired streams. They thrive as nymphs in highly oxygenated fast moving waters like rapids or heavy riffles and often where the thick moss grows on the rocks. I presume this helps them keep their footing while foraging on the bottom in the fast water. This is where I always find them and where I look for them to be effective when fishing larger freestone streams.

"Little Winter Stones" Illustration by Dave Weaver
"Little Winter Stones" Illustration by Dave Weaver

Limestone spring creeks are slow moving with low gradient and few if any riffles over their short length. This is why you don’t see them in great numbers there. Larger freestone streams are more likely to get too warm in summer and are not great fall or winter trout streams, unless they receive a fall stocking or have a limestone spring influence (i.e. Penns Creek).

So where you find little black stonefly "hatches" to be prolific you likely are not fishing because they are mainly stocked trout streams. And few are stocked in fall or winter after the summer "trout drought."

Their onstream behavior is an egg laying, more than a mating ritual or traditional hatch. That's why they are seen as solitary, usually downstream and across courses where the fly daps the water or skitters. If you observe their behavior and how the fish take them it’s pretty easy to mimmick but it is not a typical mayfly behavior to be sure. But it is similar to caddis fly egg laying.

This hatch is more like fishing a streamer or a wetfly that doesn't sink. I really enjoy this hatch and fish it with a #16 black bodied Henryville special with a Z-lon wing. Sometimes I trail a black bodied soft hackle on a dead drift while waiting for the initial reaction strike and then I slowly lift and drop the rod tip as the fly swings across the slower waters where the stoneflies lay their eggs. Most of the strikes come on the swing to be sure.

If you see half a dozen at a time in the air and hitting the water at a time during a still, sunny period of the day, you've hit it right.

There are several stonefly species that hatch in the winter/early spring. The tiny winter black / snowflies, aka needle flies that are smaller and hatch in the middle of winter are a good example. You can often see them crawling on the banks in the snow.

Usually a little later in the winter to early spring, the early brown and black stoneflies hatch. They are a little larger.

I have had little success fishing the tiny winter blacks vs the early brown and black (nymph or dry). The main reason, in my opinion, is the lower water temps in mid winter vs. late winter when the days are longer and temps warmer. But to be sure, often the best results come on sunny, snowy days with temps above 45 degrees, regardless of the water temp.

So find a big freestone stream with a fall/winter stocking of brown trout (more likely to rise) and on a warm sunny day in the winter/late winter, January through March. Swing ‘em if ya got ‘em.
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Published by Tom C. [afishinado] on 11/26/2017 (1779 reads)
There are quite a few beginners on the board so I thought I would post a little on how I approach a day on the stream. I would be very interested to read about how others on the board approach a day of FLy Fishing.


The success or failure of a day on the stream (although no day on the stream is really a failure…unless you drown I guess) is often determined before you even leave home. I check flows and temps on the USGS; conditions can differ in certain areas and streams. For example, if the water is high or low, perhaps a more stable stream like a limestoner would be a better choice. I also check the weather and find out the temperature high and low, cloud cover or sun, and rainfall info. I include all this info to make my decision on where to fish.

In addition, If I’m planning to fish an ATW, I will check of the PFBC site for stocking info. Actually, I’m not really a white truck chaser, quite the opposite. I try to avoid freshly stocked fish because I hate the crowds they attract, and I really don’t like fishing for freshly stocked fish, but that’s just me. Some may even use the Internet to find some hotspots (believe it or not!). IMO, posting a good report about a certain stream does attract anglers, especially in the short term. Again, I often do the opposite, if the word is out on hot fishing on a certain stream, I’ll often try to guess where the least amount of pressure is, and choose accordingly. Hatch info on the Internet is useful though. Even if the reports are from a different stream, I can “interpolate” and guess what’s hatching on some streams I know.

Once I pick where I want to fish, if it’s not an all-day trip, my next decision is when to fish; morning, afternoon or evening? As a general rule, in the winter the warmest time of day (afternoon) is usually the best, and in the summer the coolest (early am or pm) is usually best. Also I think about the hatches, for example with Hendrickson’s, I want to be on the stream mid-morning to early afternoon, but if sulphurs are hatching, I would plan a late-afternoon/evening trip, etc.

Okay you make your decision on the stream to fish based on flow, temp, weather, hatches, etc. and you’re there. Now what? I usually cruise around the stream in my truck a bit to check out the different parking areas and sections to evaluate stream conditions, fishing pressure, rising fish, etc., and I pick a spot based on what I’ve found.


It’s best to go to the stream bank before you rig up and decide what would be best to start with. Of course, if there’s rising fish, I would try to determine what insect is hatching and how/where the fish are taking it. Ideally I would capture an insect first. If I can’t capture one, I’ll at least try to ID the type of insect (mayfly, caddisfly, stonefly, midge) and estimate the size and color. Often I will tie on a dry with an emerger, pupa or unweighted nymph on a dropper to see what they are taking. I will continue to try to capture an insect with my little insect net while I’m fishing. I will change flies and presentations until I hit it right.

In non-hatch situations you must “prospect” to find the fish. Some FFers start with streamers first to find fish. It is a good way to locate fish, but since it’s my least favorite type of fishing, I will nymph first in non-hatch situations. I usually will try two or three nymphs or a nymph(s) and a wet. I most often will tie on a weighted generic nymph like a Hares Ear or a Phesant Tail nymph along with a nymph that matches what should be hatching in the stream. I will usually stick with the generic pattern and change off the other fly or flies until I find the fly combo that works.

Also, it is important to fish in different types of water to try to hone in on where the fish are, or at least where the feeding fish are located. I will probe the riffs, runs, tails and heads of pools, deep pools. I use all types of nymphing methods depending on the water: euro, high-sticking, indies, etc. If I begin to catch fish in a certain water-type, I try to seek out similar spots and concentrate on them. If fish begin rising, I will go to my hatch-matching mode as described earlier.

If nothing is happening after fishing through all types of water with nymphs, I may switch over the streamer tactics or wet flies to cover a lot of water and find fish. As mentioned earlier, it’s a great way to locate fish. Also, there are times where dries work well even when nothing is rising. A dry dropper can be a deadly combo especially in low flows. In addition, small brook trout streams are one of the few places where I will start the day (and usually end the day) using dries to prospect.

Sometimes fish are feeding, but not on the surface. Signs of this are fish flashing or seeing a fish holding and feeding in mid depth areas. In this case I will try wet flies or emergers and drift, swing or retrieve it to get some strikes.


In a nutshell, try fishing all types of water, at all depths (including on top) with different types of flies and presentations until you begin catching fish. Just remember there are no magic flies or techniques, and often many will work.

Not long ago I fished the Breeches. As usual, there were quite a few anglers on the stream. I worked my way downstream and caught fish regularly using a nymph rig. A guy working behind me was catching fish stripping a bugger, and the guy below me was catching fish on midges. Some days a lot of things work, while other days, nothing seems to work. I keep trying different stuff in different spots until I either catch fish, it’s too dark to see, or my wife calls to find out where the heck I’m at!
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Published by Dave Weaver [Dave_W] on 11/16/2017 (2144 reads)
The chart below includes the total number of all macroinvertebrates in seine. The July sample in Letort may have been impacted by dense weeds producing a reduced number.

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 8.04.10 AM

This survey sought to identify macroinvertebrate populations in three different central PA stream types over the course of a year for the purpose of shedding light on nymph populations that might be of interest to fly fishermen. Three streams were chosen reflecting a freestone stream (Conococheague), a semi-limestoner (Yellow Breeches), and a limestoner (Letort).

I attempted to ensure that each kick seine survey was done in as close to the exact spot in the riffle each time I conducted the survey. These surveys were done in January, April, July, and early November. Although I don’t claim that this effort was entirely scientific, the results do shed some light on nymph numbers and characteristics. Moreover, the results bear out fly fishing conventional wisdom: that nymphs are more numerous and larger in springtime. In all three streams, the macro biomass was highest in April. The graph above reveals the fluctuation in the riffle by season. Of note, the Letort far exceeded the other streams in total biomass, although as one would expect, this difference was largely due to scuds and cress bugs. If one were to break out scuds and cress bugs from Letort, the number of nymphs would have been less than Conococheague. If you’re a limestone stream nympher, Letort in particular, scud and cress bug patterns are well known for a reason.

Among general observations of the streams’ combined results that I think merit note are a couple things:

1. The relative scarcity of stoneflies and caddis compared to the much more numerous mayflies.

2. The generally small size of these nymphs throughout the seasons, but especially in summer and fall. Most of these bugs averaged only about a quarter of an inch or less in body length (not counting tails) and would be imitated on hooks around #18 or less. Only the rare stoneflies and a few of the largest march browns would match a #14 nymph hook.

For comparison, the images below show the relative difference in size of nymphs in Yellow Breeches in April (upper image) and late November (lower image).

For more detailed information with bug numbers broken out by species and discussion, please feel free to check out the discussion in the Hatch and Entomology forum here.

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Published by Dave Weaver [Dave_W] on 10/31/2017 (1719 reads)
Susquehanna River, Lancaster Co., 10/21/17

WEATHER: Blue bird skies with highs in the 70s.

WATER: 3.2' at the Harrisburg gauge, gin clear, 60 degrees. A few boaters and yakkers but not a lot of activity.

HATCHES ETC: Nothing significant. A few scattered bugs, no rises; large schools of small minnows around 2" in length around shoreline areas. No crayfish seen. One bass caught in a riffle today had multiple caddis larva in his mouth and gullet. These caddis were dark colored and about #16.

Teamed up with Afishinado today to put some autumn hurtin on the Susky bass.
We arrived at mid day about 11am and fished until 5:30pm. It was a tough day. The bright sun and very clear water seemed to have the river switched off. We fished some very good sections with little success. Around 4pm, with the sun lower in the sky and softened by haze, the river seemed to wake up. We found active fish in fast water, mostly along current seams but also in shallow riffles. I had expected to find SMBs around ledge rock and and deeper tailouts today, but these spots didn't produce. The active fish were in pretty fast water. Had luck high sticking a helgy nymph and swinging a Clouser. I tried poppers briefly with no success. I managed about eight fish with three in the mid teens. Afish got fifteen bass with one at 18 inches.

A very nice day to be outside, but fishing was sub-par for what I'd expect on the big river in October. Nevertheless, with water levels still quite low, if you're a wading angler, the Susky is in great shape for FFing right now.

Members can follow along with comments in the forum here.


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